PURPOSE: Over 90% of people that smoke begin before the age of 18, and each day more than 3,000 children and adolescents become regular smokers. We designed and tested an intervention to affect the perception and knowledge of tobacco, and the attitude towards and willingness to use tobacco among the elementary students in Galveston, Texas.
METHODS: After permission from the Galveston, Texas School district, children from first -third grade underwent an educational program, which was delivered by medical student volunteers after appropriate training. The children were administered an 8-point pre-intervention questionnaire to obtain their baseline knowledge about the ill effects of smoking. Following the survey of baseline knowledge, the “Ant E tobacco” program was administered. This consisted of a 13-minute educational cartoon video depicting the ill effects of smoking by a colony of ants. This was followed by a 17-point post-intervention questionnaire assessing the children’s’ perception, willingness and knowledge about tobacco smoking, and attitude towards tobacco use.
RESULTS: 104 children filled out pre- and post-intervention questionnaires. All teachers and students liked the program. On the pre-intervention questionnaire the children reported that 13.46% and 31.73% of mothers and fathers smoke respectively. By the post-intervention responses, the majority of children (>80%) did not feel the children who smoked to be popular, cool, or smart, nor did they believe that smoking would make them look cool or have more friends. Greater than 90% of children demonstrated unwillingness to smoke, as well as awareness of smoking related cancer and illness issues. 11.54% +/- .32 of children felt once smoking is started it is easy to quit.
CONCLUSIONS: Smoking among parents still remains a major concern, along with lack of knowledge among some children that they can quit smoking easily.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Efforts need to be directed towards parental smoking and preventing children to take on the first puff of cigarette.
DISCLOSURE: The following authors have nothing to disclose: Salim Surani, Sean Hesselbach, Kalpalatha Guntupalli
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